You might have been seventeen this year          
swimming in the Atlantic Ocean with your cousins for the first time
I might have told you to go back to the hotel room last night   
so the adults and I could take a break
through 4 AM conversations and shots of
whiskey and Coke

Instead, the aunts ask if I want children         
They dig into my sex life  
I am tempted to say,       
Would you like to know how much sperm has spilled into my womb?

If I tell a truth, it is this: 
I am afraid
I remember your fingers glowing brightly at the tips          
I remember your body so tiny
and me so poor, you were buried in a Styrofoam container
the kind people buy at gas stations for storing beer    
Temporary, cheap, a last-minute thought   

If I tell a truth, it is this:
I was glad you died then
I did not want to be another statistic, a teen mom, a failure

If I tell a truth, it is this:
You might be the first and the last    

When will you have a child? the aunts ask
Do you need medicine?
Ask Grandma for medicine

She's not ready for kids yet, says Grandma

I wonder if she knows
that my womb, like my mother's, is cursed    
Grandma, who has ten children and even more descendants, must know
She’s old,
and wise,
and a shaman to boot                             

I stand on the ocean shoreline     
The midnight moon glowing above me  
Nearby, aunts, cousins, and their children bend over the water          
The glow from their cellphones illuminate the darkness beneath
as they search for baby fish and crabs                    
Some hold up the light           

Others carry a net to capture their quarry
I stare at the ocean

The waves are strong tonight             
If I stay mesmerized too long, my feet will sink into the sand  
And the ocean will pull me away                                  

I don’t know how to swim                 
As a child, I grew up in apartment buildings with empty swimming pools         
As an adult, I took an eight-week water adjustment class and learned just one thing: 
The recovery pose     

When you think will drown
Lay on your back   
Spread your arms out wide
Keep your legs straight
Imagine a string connected to your belly      
Pulling you up